It's no secret that DeMar DeRozan and many Toronto Raptors fans were angry and saddened when he was dealt to the San Antonio Spurs in a major blockbuster that brought Kawhi Leonard north of the border.
DeRozan ripped Ujiri and Raptors management on Instagram, pointing out his long-term loyalty to the franchise. On top of that, the four-time All-Star said his relationship with Ujiri is "over."
However, Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas doesn't think it's fair to blame Toronto's management for making the trade via Donatas Urbonas.
Jonas Valanciunas on Kawhi - DeRozan trade: "It's a business. You never know in the NBA. Maybe now while I'm talking all the papers are set and I'm moving to Detroit. You just never know in this business. DeMar was really great, loyal player. But I think you can't blame anybody."— Donatas Urbonas (@Urbodo) August 28, 2018
There's no denying the impact DeRozan had one of the Raptor franchise. He was the franchise player for almost a full decade, and took them to the playoffs in each of the last five years. He didn't pull a Vince Carter or Chris Bosh; ditching his team for the chance to win elsewhere.
DeRozan stayed loyal to Toronto and formed a dynamic duo with Kyle Lowry, making the Raptors one of the top teams in the Easter Conference. But after being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the postseason for the second consecutive year, Ujiri decided it was time for a change.
Head coach Dwane Casey was fired and replaced with Nick Nurse. Ujiri then dealt DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a first-round pick to the Spurs in exchange for Leonard and Danny Green.
When healthy, Leonard is by far a top-five player in the NBA. He's a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, with a 2014 NBA championship ring and Finals MVP award on his resume.
DeRozan will go down as one of the most loyal athletes in Toronto sports history, but professional sports are all about winning and business. Ujiri believes Leonard can get his team to that next level, so he made the move.